Joe Viechnicki, KFSK - Petersburg
Joe Viechnicki is a reporter at KFSK in Petersburg.
Petersburg officials are reviewing the community’s response to a tsunami warning from the January 4th earthquake that rattled Southeast Alaska and sent residents scrambling to higher ground in the middle of the night. The voluntary evacuation went smoothly by many accounts but also highlighted some possible areas of improvement.
It’s official. Petersburg is now a borough. The state’s Division of Elections certified the town’s borough vote Thursday January 3rd and the final results did not changed from the initial counts in December. The final tally is 782 votes in favor and 600 opposed.
Southeast game managers are working on new wolf control programs for Southeast Alaska. The state’s Board of Game will hear about the plan when it meets in January in Sitka. The Department of Fish and Game is looking at reducing wolves near Petersburg and Ketchikan to help boost deer numbers. Predator control efforts are underway in other parts of the state but these new programs would be the first of their kind in decades for Southeast.
Low forecasts for next year’s Stikine and Taku river king salmon returns will mean no opportunity for commercial fishing fleets to target those king runs early next May. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game this month released its forecasts for Chinook expected to return to the two rivers in Southeast Alaska next spring and summer.
While the rest of the Alaska is done with elections for a while, one is heating up in Petersburg. Voters there are deciding this month whether to create a new borough in Southeast. The proposal would dramatically expand municipal boundaries and the tax base for Petersburg and increase the population by about 10 percent.
Juneau Democratic state representative Beth Kerttula is spending time this fall getting to know the residents and issues in several smaller Southeast Alaska communities that will be part of her district in 2013. Because of redistricting, Kerttula’s House District 32 will include Petersburg, Kupreanof, Gustavus, Tenakee and Skagway. She’s running unopposed for the seat and considers it an opportunity to represent an expanded district.
Petersburg is far from the presidential swing state circuit and does not even have any contested state legislative races to weigh in on this fall. However, yard signs are up around town showing a political campaign of a different sort heating up this fall. Supporters and opponents of the creation of a new Petersburg borough are making their case through mailings and on the airwaves, editorial page and online.
The City and Borough of Juneau is appealing a decision by the state’s Local Boundary Commission on the northern boundary of a proposed Petersburg borough.
The state of Alaska has the only remaining legal challenge pending against a nationwide ban on logging and road building on roadless forest lands. That’s after the U.S. Supreme Court decided this week not to hear an appeal on a lawsuit brought by the state of Wyoming and a mining industry group from Colorado.
Icicle Seafoods has agreed to pay a fine over refrigerant leaks at some of the company’s seafood processing vessels and plants.
The Alaska Marine Highway has concluded that a strong tidal current and a maneuvering error by the captain of the state ferry Matanuska resulted in the May 7 crash with a seafood processing plant in Petersburg.
A federal funding program key to Southeast school districts will remain in place for another year. An extension of the Secure Rural Schools Program is part of a recently passed transportation bill. The program has been a mainstay for districts in or near National Forests in and outside of Alaska.
Ocean Beauty Seafoods won’t be processing fish at the company’s cannery in Petersburg this summer because of damage from the state ferry Matanuska.
The seafood processing company Ocean Beauty says it will keep its Petersburg plant open in 2012, despite another low pink salmon forecast.
A Superior Court judge has ruled against Petersburg’s legal challenge of the Alaska Redistricting Board’s plan for new legislative districts.
The Fairbanks North Star Borough is seeking to dismiss its lawsuit over Alaska’s redistricting plan. The decision comes after the city of Petersburg decided to drop the bulk of its claims it made in suing the Alaska Redistricting Board.
Southeast Alaska’s commercial dive fishing seasons are underway this month (October) for red sea urchins, sea cucumbers and geoduck clams. The dive fisheries continue to see impacts from the region’s expanding population of sea otters.
A federal agency wants the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council to provide more input before implementing a controversial catch sharing plan for halibut in Southeast Alaska and the central Gulf.
The Sealaska Corporation has uncovered an old Haida canoe on the corporation’s timber land near the Prince of Wales Island community of Kasaan.